Summary: We live with the promise of success through the Holy Spirit, given by Jesus.
Power of the Holy Spirit
April 23, 2005
How does Jesus do His work today? Since He’s in heaven, how does He go about accomplishing what He wants to accomplish in our lives and around the lives of His people?
The NT shows, plainly, that Jesus had a plan for the continuation of his work in the world, after he left this earth, about 40 days after his resurrection.
Mark 13.9-13- Jesus explained that the time between His death and the end would be marked by hard times, the mission of the church, and the empowering of the Holy Spirit
John 15.26-16.2- Three major forces will follow His departure to heaven- the Holy Spirit will come to bear witness to Him, the disciples, themselves, will bear witness, and life will be tough.
Luke 24.44-49- Luke, who wrote a gospel and the Acts, declares the same. The disciples were to be witnesses in ever widening circles of influence, they would be able to do nothing without the empowering by the coming of the Holy Spirit into their lives, and the whole story of Acts is the story of hard times.
These three writings about Jesus tell us that the time between the two comings is NOT an empty time of waiting. It is full of the Holy Spirit and evangelism. These two belong together. They are the two main instruments for the Kingdom’’ advance until the return of the King.
Let’s focus, today, on the book of Acts and understand how the work of the family of God advanced. As the story of Acts unfolds, we find the Holy Spirit taking the lead.
Acts 2.1-4- the Holy Spirit drove the disciples onto the streets of Jerusalem in a way they would never have considered previously.
The Holy Spirit sparked the new initiative, of the fledgling church, to go into the Greek world- to the, formerly, despised Gentiles:
Acts 6.1-6; 7.51-53; 8.14- 31, 36-39. It’s really amazing to see what transpired. The Holy Spirit led the church into what was once the ‘No-go’ land of the Samaritans. He was very active.
Acts 10, 34- 48- the Holy Spirit made Peter reach out to a Roman ‘godfearer’.
Acts 11. 19- 26- the Holy Spirit founded the first Gentile church.
Acts 13.1-3- the Holy Spirit inaugurated world mission, something that has been going on for 2000 years and which continues strongly, in our world, today. In fact, it is so strong that missionaries are beginning to come to areas of Canada, from the Third World, to help the spiritually needy in our great land.
It’s important for us to realize that it was not the apostles who were responsible for any of these initiatives. It was the Holy Spirit who spurred his reluctant people into action. God’s people have always been guilty of settling and wanting to remain. You can find that in the entire history, from Israel in Egypt, to Israel in the Promised Land, to Israel in Babylon, to the church wanting to hold on to certain points of belief and needing to be dragged, sometimes yelling and screaming, to a new place.
The Holy Spirit loves to start small and build something beautiful for God. This is the pattern that we see exemplified in Acts. From one man, Jesus, came twelve. From twelve came 3000 in one day. From one Cornelius came an entire work to the gentile world. If you look at the church at Philippi, it began small- with a jailer. The church at Corinth began with a discouraged apostle, the companionship of Aquila and Priscilla, opportunities opening up in the workplace and in the synagogue, some significant conversions, and a whole city eventually touched by the gospel. That’s the way it began time and again in church history- this is God’s pattern for reproduction. God has begun small, often prompting just one person to launch out in the power of his Spirit, and the result has been remarkable.
Before Jesus left this earth, he gave an incredible promise about what was to follow his departure.
John 14.12- this is a fabulous promise that we must claim and recognize to be a promise to us.
We are here as a small group. However, it’s important to know that the majority of churches, in Canada, are under 50 in attendance. We always think of the big churches, and the mega-churches, which we don’t have many of in Canada, in the same way as in some US cities. It’s important to know that God is able to do every bit as much in Cornwall in 2005 as He was able to do in Jerusalem, or in any other area in the First Century. He is able to work as dramatically and as powerfully. The key, for us, is to watch and to follow where He leads. That’s how the apostles, and others of the First Century, were able to be where they needed to be. Advancing, in the church, wasn’t without controversy, at some points.